Spelt wheat (Triticum spelta L., 2n=6x=42, AABBDD) is a valuable source of new gene resources for wheat genetic improvement. In the present study, two novel high molecular weight glutenin subunits (HMW-GS) 1Ax2.1* at Glu-A1 and 1By19* at Glu-B1 from German spelt wheat were identified. The encoding genes of both subunits were amplified and cloned by allele-specific PCR (AS-PCR), and the complete sequences of open reading frames (ORF) were obtained. 1Ax2.1* with 2478 bp and 1By19* with 2163 bp encoded 824 and 720 amino acid residues, respectively. Molecular characterization showed that both subunits had a longer repetitive region, and high percentage of α-helices at the N- and C-termini, which are beneficial for forming superior gluten macropolymers. Protein modelling by AlphaFold2 revealed similar three-diamensional (3D) structure features of 1Ax2.1* with two x-type superior quality subunits (1Ax1 and 1Ax2*) and 1By19* with four y-type superior quality subunits (1By16, 1By9, 1By8 and 1By18). Four cysteine residues in the three x-type subunits (1Ax2.1*, 1Ax1 and 1Ax2*) and the cysteine in intermediate repeat region of y-type subunits were not expected to participate in intramolecular disulfide bond formation, but these cysteines might form intermolecular disulfide bonds with other glutenins and gliadins to enhance gluten macropolymer formation. The SNP-based molecular markers for 1Ax2.1* and 1By19* genes were developed, which were verified in different F2 populations and recombination inbred lines (RILs) derived from crossing between spelt wheat and bread wheat cultivars. This study provides data on new glutenin genes and molecular markers for wheat quality improvement.
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